George Tracy of Tracy Design Studio walks us through the West University Baptist Church Youth Ministry Building in Houston Texas. He explains how the neighborhood impacted the project and why they had to get a zoning exception and a zoning variances. He also discusses which building systems were chosen with the goal of achieving LEED certification.  

Practical Applications

Hello my name's George Tracy, I'm an architect with Tracy Design Studio and you are inside of the youth ministry building for West University Baptist Church. A project for which I was the architect, and this project was built probably opened about a year ago. It's got 7,000 square feet, it's almost LEED certified and I'm extremely glad that you've had an opportunity to take a look at the building and to see what has been accomplished for West University Baptist Church.

But to come and have projections from that circular shape, that pick up the form of the neighborhoods, and therefore you see the gabled ends that are protruding in different directions, and those gabled ends have the brick, the same brick that's on the church, but any facility could have brick, and it had stone, which most facilities have stone, and it has a metal roof, which there are facilities in the city that have a metal roof, in fact across the street is the city Public Works Administration and that has a metal roof so, in other words, what we did, is we picked up from the cityscape, the inspiration to design with a residential motif, even though the building is far from residential. And we still had fun with the shapes of the building as it was. We had to keep as many trees as possible, and we had to plant, literally, about 24 trees, and so what we did, is we planted those 24 trees on other church property, and along streets, and in different areas, but that was also mandated as part of the process.

There are a number of providers that provide green energy now, so in this particular case the church bought the renewable energy credits and then it's at that point it's a matter of finding and utilizing materials that don't off-gas, utilizing pluming fixtures that have a real, real low flush rate and using proximity sensors so you don't turn on and off the faucets and you don't manually flush the toilets, to using sensors for lights so that you're not turning on and off lights, they're doing it for you. All the appliances in the kitchen are extremely high efficiency, they're all energy star rated. So for the most part when you go down the LEED checklist and you look and see what is the key to sustainability, it's really no different than any project.

Mechanical plumbing subcontractors are considered mechanical so you had one contractor that did mechanical and plumbing, and you had another contractor did the electrical. They did their own drawings. They engineered it.

Load bearing steel stud walls and non load bearing steel stud walls. Steel beam and heavy corrugated rib deck. Concrete fill for the second floor.

And the high schoolers have a lower level assembly and a upper level education, so you did not have assembly over assembly and you always had segregation in the middle and the high school so that when somebody was making racket in the middle school in the assembly, the only people that would be impacted would be people down in the middle school education, which is not, they're not occupied at the same time. So acoustics were important primarily between the middle and the high schoolers and that's done by the core, the circular core on the inside, is how we segregated that. Now to the outside we had to convince the authorities when we went for the zoning exception, that we were not going to be blaring away our neighbors at nine or ten o'clock on a Sunday morning, and when I say blaring away I mean these kids get in here and they crank it out, so I mean it's loud and as a result, we needed heavy materials on the outside as good as possible to rain in the migration of noise from the interior to the exterior.

So rather than go to get approval in writing, we went on ahead and put spandrel glass in these openings, knowing that, someday, the church is gonna buy this piece of property. We already own that piece of property, and that we would change this glass out for vision glass. It's real simple, so rather than put a solid wall and then have to bust the wall out, this one, we just put the spandrel glass in and know that we'll replace it.

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